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The Two Towers

by: J. R. R. Tolkien

Book III, Chapters 9–11

Summary — Chapter 9: Flotsam and Jetsam

Gandalf and Théoden leave Isengard to meet Fangorn. Aragorn and his cohorts, staying behind, are given human food obtained by the Ents, a welcome change from the Orc food that disgusts them. The two hobbits offer Gimli some tobacco from barrels they have discovered at Isengard. The dwarf regrets not having a pipe with which to smoke the tobacco, but Pippin gives Gimli a pipe of his own, which Gimli may keep. Gimli is grateful.

Pippin tells the tale of his adventures since he was separated from his friends. Aragorn returns the hobbits’ knives and the Elf-brooch that he found on the way. Merry tells of the Ent assembly and the trees’ decision to go to battle against Saruman, describing the Ents’ speed and great strength in destroying the stone walls of the wizard’s fortress. The hobbits also relate Gandalf’s meeting with Treebeard to seek help. The Ents responded by breaking the dams nearby and flooding the earth under Isengard with water. The Orcs in the lower areas were wiped out.

Summary — Chapter 10: The Voice of Saruman

“You have become a fool, Saruman, and yet pitiable. You might still have turned away from folly and evil. . . But you choose to stay and gnaw the ends of your own plots.”

(See Important Quotations Explained)

Gandalf and his group set off for the gates of Orthanc to try to make contact with Saruman. Watching the windows of the tower, Gandalf calls out Saruman’s name, but gets no response. Finally, a window opens and they hear the voice of Gríma Wormtongue, Saruman’s a spy in Théoden’s court. Wormtongue asks what the visitors want. Gandalf impatiently demands to speak to Saruman himself. Finally Saruman speaks. He addresses the travelers in a sad and self-pitying voice, using his powers in an attempt to persuade and placate them.

Saruman first speaks to the Riders of Rohan, claiming that he only wants peace for all. Théoden and his men are initially dazzled by Saruman, but Gimli interrupts the wizard to accuse him of deceit. Saruman tries to maintain his cool, but he explodes in rage when Gandalf rebukes him. Gandalf responds by breaking Saruman’s staff. Saruman falls down. The enraged Wormtongue, hidden from view, seeks revenge by throwing a glowing crystal sphere out of the tower window. The globe misses Gandalf and rolls along the ground. Pippin picks it up.

The group prepares to leave Orthanc. As they do, they hear a piercing cry from Saruman’s quarters. Gandalf knows that Saruman has realized the loss of the precious globe that Wormtongue threw out the window. As they leave the gates, Gandalf introduces Fangorn to Legolas and Gimli. Gandalf asks the Ent to fill the gorge around Orthanc with water, ensuring that Saruman can never escape. Fangorn promises that the Ents will do so.

Summary — Chapter 11: The Palantír

As Gandalf and Théoden retreat from Isengard, the wizard carries Merry with him on Shadowfax, while Aragorn carries Pippin. Merry and Gandalf chat. They ride late into the night and then stop to camp. Pippin asks Merry whether Gandalf seems different now that he has come back from the dead, and Merry replies that the wizard seems both happier and more serious.


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